New union advertisement attacks Malloy, complicate chances of agreement

The state’s largest teachers’ union launched a new wave of TV and radio advertisements Friday, calling Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s plans for education reform a “bad science experiment” that “is sure to explode.”

The 43,000-member Connecticut Education Association has played a critical role in persuading state legislators not to move forward on key components of Malloy’s education proposals. The legislature’s Education and Appropriations committees two weeks ago both significantly minimized Malloy’s initiatives, focusing particularly on plans to tie teacher tenure and salary increases to performance evaluations.

“The legislature is getting it right,” the 32-second TV advertisement says, laying out three components of the new version of the bill the union helped craft, intertwined with the CEA logo. “Tell your legislators to keep working to get it right. We don’t need a bad experiment.”

cea ad

New union advertisement that began airing Friday

Lawmakers have said they hope the unions and the administration can come to some agreement, but this advertisement is not likely the peace offering necessary to get the groups talking again.

“The problem’s been that the leadership of CEA hasn’t been trying to represent teachers; they’ve been representing themselves, said Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior adviser.

“They’ve consistently misinformed their members because they’re afraid if teachers learn what’s actually in the governor’s package they’ll be supportive,” he said, in response to questions about the advertisement. “For reasons only they understand, the leadership of CEA is defending a status quo that is indefensible to everyone…except them.”

But the minute-long radio advertisement asserts that the union is representing teachers and that Malloy continues to be tone deaf to their concerns, despite having hosted a dozen town halls across the state where teachers have come out in force.

“Now if the governor would only listen,” the woman in the radio advertisement says.

The advertisements were put together by Wild Bunch Media, a Washington D.C. based political advertising firm that has a reputation of going after Republicans and creating media spots for Democratic causes and candidates.

Mary Loftus Levine, the executive director of the CEA, would not disclose how much her union plans to spend airing this advertisement, but she said that the decision was made to go after Malloy because he has not backed down on his destructive plans for education.

“We are really tired of hearing about unproven ideas that are basically backed by special interest groups and are extremely detrimental to teachers and kids,” she said. “The whole argument that he’s making is so disingenous.”

Loftus Levine said no one from the administration has reached out to the union to meet, and there is nothing scheduled.

“We’re still waiting for a call back from the governor’s office,” she said. “I don’t think the governor is really interested in talking with us now, because if he were he wouldn’t have been out for the past two weeks bashing teachers.”

Asked by email if there’s a chance that the administration would be coming to an agreement with the union or if the two sides would be meeting anytime soon, Occhiogrosso shrugged off plans or attempts to set up a meeting.

“There are no formal talks planned for now,” he said.